Football still king: World Cup provides 34 of France's top 50 sports audiences
By Martin Ross
The broadcast appeal of the Fifa World Cup has again been underlined by France’s annual television audience rankings, as the tournament accounted for 34 of the 50 top sports audiences in the country last year.
The tournament, and TF1, the French commercial broadcaster that held the free-to-air rights, were the clear victors as France successfully negotiated their way to the final to lift a trophy they last won two decades ago.
TF1 registered the top 25 sports audiences of 2018 (see table below), led by the average of 19.4 million viewers (and 81.9-per-cent viewing share) for France’s win over Croatia in the final. A further 1.6 million subscribers watched the game on BeIN Sports, the pay-TV broadcaster that showed all 64 matches from the tournament.
Only in-home viewers were counted, but the French audience swelled to 26.1 million when taking into account those who watched the final at fan zones, bars, restaurants and other public places, according to figures from Médiamétrie.
Soccer accounted for 44 of the 50 top sports audiences of 2018, spurred on by TF1’s coverage of the World Cup from Russia.
France’s semi-final win over Belgium pulled in the second-highest audience of the year as an average of 19.1 million (a 69.3-per-cent share) watched TF1’s coverage. This was followed in third place by the 18.2 million (79.2-per-cent share) who watched the presentation of the World Cup trophy.
World Cup magazine programmes on TF1 also featured in the rankings, including a show on the France 98 tournament watched by 5.8 million viewers (a 26.5-per-cent share) and in 41st position.
M6, the rival commercial broadcaster, is the next broadcaster to feature in the list – in 29th position - pulling in an audience of 6.8 million (a 25.6-per-cent share) for France’s Uefa Nations League clash with Germany.
The Europa League final between Marseille and Atlético Madrid is the first club match in the list, registering an audience of 6.7 million (a 25.1-per-cent share) on M6 and occupying 31st position. May’s Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool did not feature as it was watched by just 3.8 million viewers (an 18.6-per-cent share) on C8, the Canal Plus-owned free-to-air DTT channel.
France Télévisions, the public-service broadcaster, features for the first time in the rankings in 36th position with its audience of 6.4 million (and 29.1-per-cent share) for the Coupe de France final between Paris Saint-Germain and minnows Les Herbiers.
Away from soccer, only handball’s women’s EHF Euro and rugby union’s Six Nations featured in the top 50 sports audiences of the year.
The victory of tournament hosts France over Russia in the EHF Euro final was watched by an average of 5.4 million viewers (and 29.4-per-cent share) on TF1. BeIN Sports also aired the match live.
Four matches from the Six Nations feature towards the foot of the Top 50 list, headed by France Télévisions’ audience of 5.1 million viewers (and 32.3-per-cent share) for France’s clash with England.
25 top sports television audiences in France in 2018
|Event (all soccer)||Broadcaster||Average audience||Viewing share|
|1. France v Croatia (World Cup final)||TF1||19.4m||81.9%|
|2. France v Belgium (World Cup semi-final)||TF1||19.1m||69.3%|
|3. 2018 World Cup trophy presentation||TF1||18.2m||79.2%|
|4. France v Uruguay (World Cup quarter-final)||TF1||12.9m||75.6%|
|5= France v Argentina (World Cup round of 16)||TF1||12.6m||71.9%|
|5= France v Australia (World Cup group stage)||TF1||12.6m||68.9%|
|7. Croatia v England (World Cup semi-final)||TF1||12.3m||52.8%|
|8. France v Peru (World Cup group stage)||TF1||10.7m||65.6%|
|9. Brazil v Belgium (World Cup quarter-final)||TF1||10.3m||46.8%|
|10. France v Denmark (World Cup group stage)||TF1||8.7m||64.6%|
|11= Brazil v Switzerland (World Cup group stage)||TF1||8.2m||33.2%|
|11= Portugal v Spain (World Cup group stage)||TF1||8.2m||36.5%|
|13= World Cup closing ceremony||TF1||8m||50.3%|
|13= Belgium v Japan (World Cup round of 16)||TF1||8m||34.7%|
|15. France new world champions magazine show||TF1||7.8m||39.7%|
|16= England v Colombia (World Cup round of 16)||TF1||7.7m||33.7%|
|16= France v Italy (friendly)||TF1||7.7m||33.2%|
|18. Croatia v Denmark (World Cup round of 16)||TF1||7.6m||35%|
|19= Pre- World Cup final magazine show on French team||TF1||7.4m||41.7%|
|19= Croatia v Russia (World Cup quarter-final)||TF1||7.4m||40.6%|
|21. France v USA (friendly)||TF1||7.3m||35.6%|
|22. Uruguay v Portugal (World Cup round of 16)||TF1||7.2m||38.6%|
|23. France v Germany (UEFA Nations League)||TF1||7.1m||31.7%|
|24. England v Tunisia (World Cup group stage)||TF1||7m||28.7%|
|25. England v Belgium (World Cup group stage)||TF1||6.9m||31%|